Hack your Studio: Kitchen Scales and Yarn Balances

In a perfect world, before beginning a project, we would know our stash held the proper yarns, in the proper colors, in the proper amounts. This would require tracking every yarn in our stash, and every project that used any of that yarn. We’d carefully and accurately update a master spreadsheet that listed every cone of yarn we own, organized by color, size, and type, plus formulas to calculate the remainder of any cone or skein. I don’t live in that world. Instead, when I need to know how much yarn remains on a cone or in a skein, I use 2 simple tools: a digital kitchen scale and a yarn balance. (You’ll find kitchen scales to be as useful in the studio as in the kitchen.)


Pepper on a kitchen scale Author: Chiyacat. Getty Images

Here are some of the ways I use my scale and yarn balance to calculate how much yardage I have to work with:

  • How to tell the amount of yarn you have left on a cone or in a skein? Put the skein or cone directly on the scale, deducting 1 ounce for a cardboard or plastic cone. Use the manufacturer’s yardage estimates per pound, or the per-pound yardages listed in the Master Yarn Chart and multiply that by the number of pounds you have.
  • Need to know the yardage per ounce? Divide the per-pound yardage number by 16. If you have less than 1 pound: multiply the number of ounces your scale determines by the yardage per ounce.
  • Want to wind off half a skein or cone, or some other amount? Rest the full cone or skein on the scale and start winding off, watching the scale until the number of ounces you want to wind off has been deducted from the original scale reading.
  • Want to share some yarn with a friend? Weigh the cones or skeins before sharing them and upon their return. Subtract to get the number of ounces used. Multiply the number of ounces used by the price per pound, divided by 16, if you are sharing and not giving away the yarn.
  • Don’t know the yarn type or size? Use that clever tool called a yarn balance to estimate yards per pound for any unknown yarn. Yarn balances are widely available, and you can even make your own. Whatever type of yarn balance you use, the process is the same: use the tool to estimate yards pound, and then follow the tips above for using a digital scale.

You can get by without a scale or a yarn balance, but I have found both to be very useful in calculating the amount of yarn I have before starting a new project. There is nothing quite as painful as finding out three-quarters of the way through a project that you don’t have enough yarn. For me, that makes the tiny bit of time spent on these calculations time well spent.

Weave well,

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